We must use tech to take city's culture to the masses; AS THE REGION'S CULTURAL SECTOR BATTLES FOR SURVIVAL, CULTURE SUPREMO AND BROOKSIDE AND HOLLYOAKS CREATOR PHIL REDMOND LOOKS TO THE FUTURE - AND COMES UP WITH A BOLD PROPOSAL FOR A POST-LOCKDOWN WORLD.
While Lennon & McCartney pushed our nostalgia and imaginations, it was left to the quiet Beatle, Harrison, to inject a dose of Scouse pragmatism. Reminding us that All Things Must Pass. Time moves on, things change, perspectives alter.
It is an irony often missed that during Liverpool's time of both football and musical dominance, it was a time of decline.
As the city's fortunes slipped, a victim of geography and changing technology, it seemed as though the creative energy of its people was channelled toward its music and football, that too fuelled by an expanding media that paradoxically shrunk the world.
It was no longer just the port that provided a global gateway, imported and exported new ideas, influences and opportunities.
Every child growing up in the city in the 1960s, 70s and 80s saw live images from New York, Madrid, Los Angeles or Rome, and was introduced to the idea of travelling for short breaks, as well as global fame on either a football pitch or stage.
In short, while deprivation was rife at home there was a bigger world beyond. Everyone could go down to the shores of the river and do what their ancestors did, and look out to the world.
So perhaps then, with that elusive trophy coming home at a time when we are slowly emerging from lockdown, it is an opportunity to revisit the region's great cultural history and look at how we stimulate another wave of creativity to send round the world. Again technology will play its part, as in the new media age streaming removes both geographical and social distancing restrictions. And brings yet another paradox. A new global audience relying less on particular venues. Gigabytes can replace gig-goers, as it is the content that is the attraction, not actually the venue. Yes, the live experience is a part of it, but only attached to an excuse to do something with friends. That can be achieved round a barbecue or picnic dinner in a socially-distanced bubble.
True, real aficionados will always want to immerse themselves in the live event, but that begs the question as to why most big concerts and festivals have to erect large screens? For those at the back? Another thing to consider postlockdown is why we have concert halls, theatres, galleries and museums in the first place. Not really so that the masses can enjoy access, as most are so small and with repeating audiences that they become, almost inevitably, the preserve of the privileged few, but mainly as a consequence of changing technology.
From someone painting on a cave wall, perhaps asking, can you guess what it is yet, to travelling troubadours seeking food and lodging in return for their performing skills, to buildings that allowed greater and greater special effects, as well as higher returns per performance, to televised concerts, it has been technology that has brought the arts to the masses.
As we emerge blinking into a new plexiglass-shaped world, one that will have the spectre of the virus stalking every potential interaction, we need to start thinking seriously about how we not only adapt to a new normal, but how we create it.
The pandemic has created a new audience of Tik-Toking, Zooming, Houseparty-goers. We are in the streaming age now, so it is time to look at our cultural venues as Hollywood looks at its production studios: as the creative factories that churn out product for later distribution.
Of course, as television knows, a live audience brings both vibrancy and creative energy to a performance and some venues will still be able to offer sociallydistanced live experiences, but with the aim of reaching technologically-distanced viewers and also, perhaps, recouping greater global revenues.
Trials are under way locally, but The Old Vic theatre in London is already into streaming - 1,000 tickets at up to PS65 each. Imagine ramping that up to a Sky Sports level? In doing that, remember that neither LFC or The Beatles became global brands by playing to the same crowd week-in and week-out in Liverpool. Nor going on the road to individual venues. It was the global media that built and projected their success.
We owe it to every child now facing a school regime of masks, social bubbles, hand scrubbing and an uncertain future that life will not always be like this. There will be hope.
And with the summer approaching perhaps it is time to follow another Beatles coda and Come Together, to figure out how we continue to nurture, produce and project our culture into the streaming world ahead of us. How we not only repurpose our existing cultural venues, perhaps pooling resources and sharing access, but also find a Nightingale response. Go back to the days of wandering storytellers and troubadours and find spaces and places large enough to host drama, concerts and exhibitions.
Or, if the audience can't or won't travel, perhaps turn once again to technology and take the culture to them. A cultural caravan of music, dance, drama, poetry and performance.
It could be anything from a few trucks in a field to a large circus tent, although, for sustainability, I would point everyone toward the temporary arena that is erected every August for the Edinburgh Tattoo. Seating nearly 9,000, with toilets and free ponchos in the rain, it offers a model for a safe outdoor and bespoke, bluetoothed, wifi-ed, silent-discoed and socially-distanced environment that could prove a lifeline for our theatre and arts practitioners.
Above all, for the Class of 2020, we need to keep reminding them that, like that Premier League drought, All Things Must Pass. There will be a better future to look forward to.
Above all, for the Class of 2020, we need to keep reminding them that, like that Premier League drought, All Things Must Pass. Phil Redmond
Phil Redmond believes that culture will survive in a post-lockdown world, if we look at it a bit differently
A 9,000 seater arena is built every year to house the worldfamous Edinburgh Tattoo
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|Publication:||Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Jul 3, 2020|
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